Select your language


10 years ago Pietro Mennea left us. A ceremony to remember him in the Stadium bearing his name


Pietro Mennea left us suddenly one morning 10 years ago, leaving us all stunned and the world a poorer place. He was an athlete, a champion, a man, an incomparable husband. Ever since he used to run around the city of Barletta challenging the cars, he had speed on his mind, fuelling him to go ever further. From the dusty provincial fields he took a giant leap into the national team. He was a true idol for the whole of Italy, although he did everything he could to avoid being drawn into the star system of the 1980s. Shy and retiring, he was sparing with his appearances even on the track, especially after his two record-breaking years: the 1979 world 200 metres record (with a time of 19”72) that stood for 17 years and is still the current European record; and the 1980 gold medal in the Moscow Games.

Regardless of this he was considered a true hero, capable of competing in 5 Olympic Games, setting 2 world, 8 European and 33 national records. In 17 years he ran in 530 official competitions. He was also Italy’s flag-bearer at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul.

Throughout his life he never stopped. After his on-track glory, he took to books, graduating four times, was also the author of numerous publications, started a law firm together with his beloved wife Manuela Olivieri and continued to battle against time even when the first symptoms of illness began to appear.

Critical of the major sports organisations, he was, nevertheless, generous with offering solutions to what he deemed to be their most pressing issues. History has since proven him right. Over the last ten years, the major sporting events have abandoned the gigantism of the past and have increasingly initiated projects aimed at a future legacy.

In the end I am convinced” said Mennea “of just one thing: that in every sport the athletes are the only ones that count; they are the protagonists, unique and irreplaceable”. Of all his quotes, this one is surely destined to last forever.

A ceremony was held today commemorating this unrivalled hero of Italian and world sport at 10.01 a.m. (a tribute to his Italian record time in the 100 metres, only beaten in 2018 by Filippo Tortu) in the Stadio dei Marmi “Pietro Mennea” at the Foro Italico, named after the great man himself.

News archive